1. CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
The rookie defensive back nabbed his second interception of the season last Sunday against the Jaguars and now leads the team in picks. He's quietly been coming into his own, playing both nickel and outside corner as he develops into the player that he was drafted to be.
Against the Colts, the Buccaneers will have a chance to force quarterback Jacoby Brissett into unfavorable situations. Indianapolis relies on the run, with over 40% of their offense coming on the ground. With how good the Bucs' run defense has been, it may force Brissett to pass more than he's used to. Passing more could mean more mistakes and for a guy that seems to find the ball like Murphy-Bunting, that could add to his pick total.
2. TE O.J. Howard
The Colts have a solid defense. Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich said as much this week, noting how well coached the defense is and how smart they are. They'll be smart enough to account for receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but a short slant to Howard or any of those underneath crossing routes could be beneficial to getting the ball out of quarterback Jameis Winston's hands while still moving the chains. Howard had his second-best game of the season in Jacksonville last week and something seemed to click about his utilization in an 'organic' way, something else Leftwich stressed. Howard will most likely have an opportunity to do the same this game against the Colts.
3. RB Ronald Jones
Speaking of underneath options, RoJo's hands have been getting better every week. His patience on the ground has improved but he's also getting more passes thrown his way and proving to be a viable checkdown option. He also has a little bit of extra motivation going into this week. Head Coach Bruce Arians said RoJo was effectively benched last game after failing to pick up a pass block. The ball instead went to the 'hot hand' in Peyton Barber, who had two rushing touchdowns on the day.
RoJo will want to get back out there and show that he's capable of carrying the load. The Colts' will present a challenge for him though, playing well against the run and letting up the ninth-fewest yards on the ground with 101.8 on average.
4. DL Ndamukong Suh & Vita Vea
These two will be instrumental in stopping Indy's ground game, which again, they rely heavily on. Running back Marlon Mack, who has the 10th-most rushing yards in the league, was limited a bit in practice this week but is expected to play. The Bucs would do well to not let him become effective. If they can take away the run, they'll essentially take away half of the Colts' offense – putting a young quarterback in Brissett on his heels.
These guys will also be fighting against Indianapolis' offensive line, which Arians said could be the best the Bucs have faced so far this season. It's led by a monster of a guard in Quenton Nelson, a second-year player that is everything he was cracked up to be. He finishes blocks, often playing through the whistle and driving his man to the ground in the process. Seeing the Bucs' interior guys match up with Nelson will be fun and whoever wins that battle of the trenches, will probably win the game.
5. ILB Devin White
The NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month has been a blast to watch, especially these last two games. It's almost become a matter of seeing how he manages to one-up himself from the previous week. Against Jacksonville, he nabbed his first career interception along with his first defensive touchdown, when he scooped up a Shaq Barrett-caused fumble and ran it into the end zone. The week before, in Atlanta, White recorded his first (and second) full sack. Since he returned from injury in Week 6, he's recorded the most tackles of any rookie with 61.
I don't know what he could possibly do against the Colts to top his recent performances, but I'm going to have a lot of fun watching him this Sunday.
**Bonus: Week 14 will showcase unique cleats representing causes chosen by players for the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats initiative. Over 30 different causes will be represented on the feet of Bucs players on Sunday, so make sure you keep an eye out for that, too.